Welcoming the stranger, encountering the divine

Emerging from shutdown is an opportunity to create space and time in our lives: but for whom? (Listen.)

So here’s old Abraham, dozing in the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. Sarah’s inside, having a nap. The air is heavy; the afternoon is still. Somewhere, a fly buzzes. And the Lord appears to Abraham and he looks up, and sees three strangers down the road, emerging out of the shimmering haze. Continue reading “Welcoming the stranger, encountering the divine”

It’s about family violence, but not as you might think

To suggest victims of family violence should ‘turn the other cheek’ is a toxic distortion of Jesus’ teaching. A look at the context of these words, and how they are an invitation to challenge all forms of violence and control, including within the family. (Listen.)

It has been a terrible week. Those of us who keep an eye on the news know that, yet again, a family has been destroyed by violence. Hannah Clarke and her children are only the most recent victims of a culture which infects our nation. For while this event is at the extreme end, family violence is very common. Some of us have been personally scarred by family violence; many of us work with victim-survivors of family violence; and most of us have friends and loved ones for whom family violence is a lived experience. Continue reading “It’s about family violence, but not as you might think”

Blessed are the school children, and other humble people

Jesus turns our assumptions about God’s blessings upside down. (Listen.)

Have you ever noticed how few people at this church drive a Porsche? Or how little time and money most of them spend on fashion? Have you noticed how rarely they go on big fancy trips? Or how often they buy things second hand or fair trade? Do you understand the choices that many of them have made? Continue reading “Blessed are the school children, and other humble people”

To receive the promises of Advent, we need to make room

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my lifestyle gave to me: twelve days of shopping, eleven Christmas parties, ten children’s concerts, nine knotted stomachs, eight toxic in-laws, seven toddlers’ tantrums, six spousal quarrels, five road trips, four splitting headaches, three sick kids, many bouts of tears, and a present under the tree. Continue reading “To receive the promises of Advent, we need to make room”

Scaling your sycamore

I am awful with dates. I just can’t keep the grid of a calendar straight in my head and constantly get mixed up. Last week, I thought I was due to write this email and had planned to write a bunch of reflective questions about Zaccheus, of all things. Then Alison happened to tell me that my turn to write wasn’t for another week, and that her message on Sunday would be a bunch of reflective questions about Zaccheus, of all things. Times like these I can only conclude that the Spirit is trying to say something and it pays to listen up. Continue reading “Scaling your sycamore”

Recognizing our limits

The gospel tells us that Zacchaeus is a man of short stature. He is also limited by Roman rule, by social expectations, and by other people’s judgements. Like Zacchaeus, we too are creatures with limits. We all experience social pressures and expectations; we all have finite time, energy, money, and capacity for relationship. Everything we do conforms to or upsets social expectations; everything we do uses time, energy, money, and capacity for relationship. Wisdom means recognising this, and weighing up our commitments accordingly. At this time of year, then, when many of us are deciding what we will commit to in the year to come, let us reflect on our context, our limits, our commitments, and our relationship with Jesus Christ. Continue reading “Recognizing our limits”

Relationships 101

As a pastor, most of my conversations revolve around relationships: having them, not having them, or having them break down. What is becoming clear to me is that most of us have internalised a whole lot of assumptions and expectations around relationships which we think are Biblical. Yet making a claim for a ‘Biblical marriage’ is pretty fraught, for if the Biblical witness teaches us anything about relationships, it is that they are, in fact, culturally bound. Continue reading “Relationships 101”

Through women’s eyes

There’s a depressing phenomenon in the children’s book industry: girls happily read books marketed to both girls and boys, while boys usually only read books marketed to boys. What this means is that boys tend to have their worldview reinforced, whereas girls tend to see the world through the eyes of both girls and boys. It reminds me of the scene in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, when Trillian zaps Zaphod Beeblebrox with the point-of-view gun. Zaphod, a complete narcissist, suddenly sees the world and himself through her eyes. He reels in shock, then grabs the gun to zap her back. She looks at him and shrugs. “It won’t affect me,” she says sadly, “I’m already a woman.” Continue reading “Through women’s eyes”

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